Take one part Uncle Tupelo, add in a dash of Old Crow Medicine Show, sprinkle a liberal dose of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and round it out with a healthy measure of the The Beatles and Cheap Trick, and you’ll be close to nailing down the formula for Marin County’s Last Call Troubadours.
Organically formed after a songwriting club saw more promise than anticipated, Last Call Troubadours is the brainchild of longtime artists Barry Blum and Tom Holmes. With support from fellow musicians and songwriters Tom Huebner and Ric Wilson rounding out the lineup, the collective delivers a rousing blend of Americana-flavored roots rock on their self titled debut.
That debut is a nine-song collection of songs that draws heavily from the shared life experiences of the group members. Lead single “Pride Comes Before a Fall” loosely highlights the trials and tribulations of making it in the musical industry, with a leaning toward the darker sides and recalls The Rolling Stones while ebbing into a Beatles-flavored chorus while “Vaudeville Man” is based upon Blum’s father, a real life vaudeville performer who was once asked to join the Three Stooges. Infused with a rich, acoustic vibe, the track continues the album’s theme of acknowledging the dark side, the moody notes hammering home a touch of warning.
Those swampy warnings echo throughout tracks like “Hanging By A Thread,” Holmes vocals delivered with ample swagger as “Make a Monkee” employs a muted vocal and some pop rock sensibilities with its insistent backbeat. And with the playful call and response roots rock of “Fall Thru the Floor,” Last Call Troubadours instill a healthy dose of musical fun alongside their stories of a life lived in struggle.
Those tales are all ones that this collective know very well, having spent their lives in pursuit of the grand musical dream. Blum boasts a pedigree that extends back years, having helmed the Barry Beam Band back in the 80s and scoring a few hit records with tracks like “Jump Shout” and “Rocket to Your Heart” before going on to pursuing a second musical life of composing video game soundtracks and scores, while continuing to produce and teach along the way.
Holmes’ journey boasts a life immersed in music, his father a jazz trumpet player, and he grew up learning all along the way. While developing as an artist himself and playing in regionally popular band Chequered Past and Rant Brothers, he also threw himself into the world of production and teaching as well, forging a life devoted to the art and craft of the musical Muse.
Following that elusive Muse led Blum in particular to a project called “Rock the Ages,” a senior’s chorus. When Blum came along, the group of thirty-plus individuals, whose median age rounds out at 85 was floundering. But with Blum’s guidance, the chorale is now belting out soulful classics by The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Pussycat Dolls, proving that rock ‘n’ roll knows no boundaries.
“Music is the great equalizer, taking age or infirmity out of the equation,” shares Holmes. “It brings joy through a level that’s deeper than just the spoken word.”
And the music of the Last Call Troubadours does just that, delivering rocking jams and soulful messages that connect with listeners mind, body, and soul.